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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) helped the Senate pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIP), bringing health care for 10 million low-income children across America one step closer to reality.  The bill passed by a vote of 66-32.  A final version must now be worked out with the House before it can be sent to President Obama.

The 2009 CHIP reauthorization will ensure that the more than 6 million children already enrolled will continue to receive health care.  And it will provide another 3.9 million low-income children with coverage. 

CHIP will increase funding for Washington state to $94 million, enabling the state to cover nearly 6,000 more uninsured children. 

“It’s been a long, hard fight, but today we took a huge step closer to ensuring thousands more Washington state children can see a doctor when they’re sick,” Senator Murray said.  “I’m thrilled we finally have a President who agrees that no child should go without health care.”

“Especially at a time when so many families are worried about paying the bills, they don’t need the added burden of wondering what more they will sacrifice to care for a sick child,” Murray continued.  “I’ve heard from so many Washingtonians who say that without CHIP they wouldn’t be able to pay the medical bills.  This is the type of compassionate, common sense investment our country needs to make in our health care system and in our future.  We can’t get this bill to President Obama soon enough.”

Congress approved CHIP twice in 2007, but it was vetoed by former President Bush both times.  Passing CHIP this year has been a top priority for Senator Murray and a bipartisan group of supporters in the Senate and House.  President Obama is expected to sign it.

On Wednesday, Senator Murray delivered a passionate speech on the Senate floor, urging her fellow Senators to support CHIP. 

Facts about The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009:

  • At least 5,700 new Washington state children will be covered under the CHIP reauthorization.  Nationally, the bill will expand the number of children covered by 3.9 million, bringing the total number of children covered to 10 million.
  • Washington state will receive $94 million in total funding.  Nationally, the bill is estimated to cost $31.5 billion over the next five years.  
  • The bill’s cost would be fully paid for by a 61-cent per-pack tax increase on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Washington state will be able to expand coverage to children living at up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level in 2009.  
    • It will allow the state to increase outreach, which will enable it to find uninsured low-income children who have so far fallen through the cracks.
  • Washington state will be able to utilize the full amount of funding it is allotted.  The state expanded Medicaid to cover children up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) three years ahead of the CHIP enactment.  But it has never been able to access the full CHIP allotment.  In fact, due to the significantly lower Medicaid match, Washington state has been penalized for its efforts.  This reauthorization will allow the state to use previously unspent portions of its allotment to cover more children and improve the overall health of low?income children in the state.